soccer blackout

NO BROADCAST: Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, left, fights for the ball with Manchester United's striker Cristiano Ronaldo during their Premiership match recently. © Unknown.
NO BROADCAST: Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, left, fights for the ball with Manchester United's striker Cristiano Ronaldo during their Premiership match recently. © Unknown.

LONDON - African fans of the English Premier League were dealt a huge blow over the weekend when the British company that broadcasts games across the continent collapsed.

LONDON - African fans of the English Premier League were dealt a huge blow over the weekend when the British company that broadcasts games across the continent collapsed.

The failure meant subscribers to the GTV service, including many bar owners, were left without pictures.

Gateway Broadcast Services, which supplies the GTV service to subscribers, said on Friday it had approved a plan to liquidate the company after it failed to secure further funding for the continued operation of the business.

"Increased instability in global markets interrupted our ability to secure funding on an acceptable timescale and has left us no choice but to cease operations," a company spokesman said in a statement on the GTV website.

"We realise the negative impact this has had on our loyal customers, creditors and staff. We have tried every possible step to keep the company going but we are all the unfortunate victims of the current global economic crisis."

Fans, and particularly bar owners, were devastated with the development.

Manchester United fan Caroline Karanja in Nairobi was so disappointed she was lost for words and was praying that GTV returned or another channel showed the matches.

Joseph Ndung'u, manager of the canopied Verandah Bar which lines Kenyatta Avenue in the capital's central business district, said the lack of Premier League matches would seriously damage his business.

"This thing [football on GTV and DStv] was a money minter," he said. "We sold out at weekends. Yesterday we were disappointed because the Chelsea versus Liverpool match would have sold out our stock as usual. It is a disaster."

GTV had the right to show most Premier League matches in 22 countries in sub Saharan Africa. Rival DStv, owned Multichoice, held the balance. - Reuters

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